At the start of March, Joshua Muskin, Senior Director at Geneva Global, traveled to Rwanda to accompany CARE’s country team there in elaborating a strategy to transition CARE’s funding and implementation of its globally renowned village savings and loan association (VSLA) model to a program that resides fully within Rwandan institutions. This followed a similar mission Muskin conducted for CARE Nepal in August 2022, helping design a “system orchestration” plan for the organization’s Farmer Field and Business School. Muskin joined CARE Rwanda’s VSLA team to meet with a VSLA group (see picture) to get a “front-line” understanding of how groups function and members’ first-hand perceptions of the associated benefits, challenges, and goals. They also engaged with leaders from the main government and civil society institutions currently involved in the implementation and scaling of VSLA in the country.
Designed to provide severely impoverished women the chance a pathway to achieve basic financial security and ultimately financial inclusion, VSLA engages its members in group savings and improved economic activities. As a group matures, VSLA serves as a platform for participation in a wide range of other development activities and for members to evolve into local leaders.
Among the questions that Muskin helped the CARE Rwanda and its partners tackle are, What does a Rwandan “owned-and-operated” version of VSLA look like at scale?, How do groups continue to receive training and support from the Village Agents when these agents are no longer being paid by CARE, and How does CARE Rwanda enlist the other international and national NGOs that fund and operate VSLA in Rwanda to sign on to this ambitious commitment to the program’s sustainability? Beyond the excitement of supporting CARE in this paradigm-shifting endeavor, Geneva Global is inspired by the fact that CARE’s pursuit of VSLA’s system integration for impact at scale in Rwanda mirrors our own efforts to integrate the Speed School model fully and permanently into Ethiopia’s education system.